Tuesday, January 21, 2014

To Tract

"One curious example of Mormon vocabulary is the verb “to tract,” by which we mean to knock on people’s doors in order to proselytize."

Our companionship decided we needed to change the way we tract.
We can be a little more guided as we do so, and make sure we are exactly where the Lord wants us.
We have seen so many miracles as we have been planned and prayed about which streets we are going to knock doors!!
We had a cat follow us for a really long time. It followed us from a house we tracted. The people there weren't interested in hearing a message about Jesus Christ, but their cat must have been because it followed us for about half an hour! It followed us all the way back to our car and so we decided to return it to it's people and drove it back.

We had dinner with one of my favorite families, the Crandell's this week, and all the missionaries love to play with their kids.

One of our investigators who was going to get baptized named Cheyanna just moved back to Arkansas and we were so sad because we love her so much! But she told us that we have changed her life!

We had a Zone meeting this week and then all the missionaries went to get burritos at this place called Free Birds!

We had SO many tracting miracles this week but I only have time to share one with you.....

Yesterday we felt really good and we all prayed about the street we ended up picking and felt really good about it.
The very first house we went to was a million-badjilionare.
THEIR HOUSE WAS HUGE. And They showed us their car collection. I guess the husband used to be a race car driver and now he owns his on electrical company. But they had lambouriguinies and restored cars.... it was crazy! They even had cars in their house on display.
Oh, and Elvis too! :)

So they were pretty nice to us, but weren't really interested in religion.

An hour and a half went on, and each door rejected us.
I started to get discouraged and wondered why the Lord wanted us on this street.
We tracted the whole street, and no one would let us get two words out.
So we are now supposed to be leaving for our dinner appointment so we aren't late, but we walk across the street and try one more house.
A Methodist man answers... again not interested.
We ask him for referrals and he says he doesn't know anyone really, that the house next to him - no body lives in.
But as we start walking back to the car, we see three cars at the house.
So on a hunch- we decide to be late to our dinner appointment and try this last house.

A very nice woman named Regina answers and immediately invites us in. We tell her we only have a few minutes, but that we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
She responds with "Oh, my great-grandfather was a Mormon! I've always wanted to learn more about my family history!"

WE found who the Lord wanted us to find, and it was a miracle!
The little things like this that happen every day let me know that Heavenly Father is 100% in control.

On Saturday we helped Bill knock/tear his burned house down.
It was a little sad, but half the ward from our church showed up to help.
Everyone that was there helping is from the ward and I was talking to Bill about it and everyone that was there helping, and he looked around at everyone that loves him and said:
"This is why I joined the Mormon church!" with tears in his eyes. It was a really tender moment.
It's true that the church is so big on service and helping those in need. We honestly want to be more like our Savior.
Jesus Christ and his apostles did went about doing good works and people noticed. It was such a great feeling to be a part of that!

I love this ward! I love this Brownlee area!
I am glad that I get to serve in the States because it won't be to hard for me to come back and visit!
Here are some of the members of the church... my best friends!

I just wanted to let you all know that Heavenly Father loves you. God hears your prayers. I know with a surety that he has a plan for each one of us.
Although I had to go through a lot of trials before my mission, it has made me appreciate and enjoy it so much more.
Some of the missionaries come out here and they have never been away from home or had a hard experience in their lives!
So I am now grateful I had those experiences before so that now i can just focus on being a missionary and doing the Lord's work :) Having trials before hand has made me be able to just ENJOY missionary work and serving my brothers and sisters!

Scripture of the week: Alma 32:21
"Faith is to hope for things which aren't seen"
With much love,
Sister Brown

P.s. I found a Donkey!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Different Fire

Well this week was really weird!
I have been slightly out of commission because I have had strep throat! But I will tell you a little about the week.

We had a great Happy New Year, and stayed inside because of all the crazy people! It was awesome to set some new years goals.
The theme of my year this year is going to be
"Perfect use of the Lord's time."
Because really this time that I am out here serving isn't my time... it is time to do the Lord's work, and I am not going to waste any of his time!

We had a district meeting on how we are going to do better missionary work - and that is going to be through the members. We listened to this really awesome CD about how to share the gospel with your friends called
"The Missionary Next Door"
We are getting the members really pumped up about doing missionary work and I can't wait to see what happens as they reach out more to their friends and help them! The Elders even made dinner!

On Wednesday I was really sick so I spent the day with the Simpsons (the senior couple in our area) and it was so hard for me to just stay inside and not be out serving people and preaching the gospel!

Later on in the week we got to visit Richard - an amazing guy who was baptized into the church this past summer. He loves to restore motorcycles and plays the guitar. He has a crazy property he lives on with his dad. My family would refer to it as "Picking Paradise" (if you have ever seen the show American Pickers.)
They even have a goat! Her name is Nanny.

Motorcycle Restoration Project

Pond in the Backyard
Home-made squirrel Feeder

Yesterday we went to church and had a couple of investigators that were able to make it with us, but right when church was going to start, Bishop Doan got up and said:
"Well, everyone we are so glad you were able to come to church today, but unfortunately we are going to have to cancel because there is a very strong gas smell and we cannot currently figure out where it is coming from."

So for safety.... they cancelled church!

It was so weird! But then we were able to go have a lesson with the Cotton's and one of our investigators named Cheyanna and it went really well!

Then later that night we were having dinner with the McCabe family (they are a family in our ward here) and we were having tinfoil dinners, or hobo dinners as we call them back at my house. We made our own and put whatever we wanted in it. And in the south, we have rabbit and shrimp in our hobo dinners!
I picked the seeds out of the jalapenos for everyone even though I hate them.

Then during the middle of our lesson I rubbed my eyes and got jalepeno juice all over my eyeballs.

It was some of the most excruciating pain I have ever been in! I tried to run to the bathroom but ran into the couch....

I used a makeup wipe to wipe all my makeup off, but that just rubbed the juice all over my face. By this time my whole face is burning and I am just screaming and crying, not knowing what to do!
I then took my contacts out, and then whole process started over; as the juice was released from my contacts.

Needless to say... it was a wild night, but the McCabe family helped take care of me by rinsing my eyes out with cold water over their kitchen sink, and my face and eyes finally calmed down!!! It was the craziest thing that ever happened and I am never touching a Jalapeno again!

I hope you all got a laugh out of that story because it sure makes a good tale now.

It sure is cold here in the south; I'm wearing multiple pairs of tights trying to stay warm. Wasn't it supposed to be hot here?

Well that's all for today, but thanks for all the love ya'll send me!
Much Love,
Sister Brownie

Awkward moment of the week:

A little boy was getting baptized in our ward this week and I told the family that we could bring cupcakes for people to eat!
The mom said they were having a green theme, so if we could bring green cupcakes that would be totally awesome.

Turns out we didn't have anything to make green cupcakes with, so we just brought cucumbers instead! Besides... everyone wants to be more healthy, right?

Another awkward moment of the week:
While we were tracting we met a guy named Matt! We told him we are Mormon missionaries and he said:
"Oh, you guys are polygamists."
Which we responded with: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not practice polygamy!!!
Then matt said:
"Oh, well I heard that Mormons have to wear one-sies or else Indians will attack you at night while you are sleeping."

We had someone else ask us this week if Joseph Smith was the man who saw spaceships and talked to aliens.

Well I am glad for each day I get to bust Mormon myths! It sure makes me laugh sometimes....some people have the craziest ideas about us.... but really, we are normal people just striving for extra-ordinary future.

If any of your friends or family have misconceptions about Mormons, you can point them in the direction of this website!

Here are some bonus pictures including puppy love, pony riding, roll eating, and sparkling baby cowgirl boots.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Out of the Ashes‏

Christmas week is a time we get to talk to everyone about Jesus Christ, especially down here in the south! It is such a special time of year and I am so grateful I got to spend this Christmas time away from home and really put into perspective the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Sunday we had a wonderful program. I loved it! I especially enjoyed seeing our recent convert, Bill, singing in the choir! :) (I may or may not have suggested he join!) There were some other fabulous musical numbers and we had exceptional Sunday school and other lessons that all focused on our Savoir, Jesus Christ.

On Monday we had P-day and were able to go to this store called Tubbs where I got my family some Christmas presents ... including a mini alligator head! I sent it off a little late but I hope they will enjoy their late Christmas present full of all sorts of southern goodies!
We were able to have dinner and a lesson with a family we tracted into that night! We ate gumbo and the family told us that they are looking for a family oriented church. The husband has PTSD and the wife has anxiety so it is hard for them to get to church.
But we can't wait to keep meeting with them and help them come closer to their Savoir!

Christmas Eve was wonderful! We did a service project for the Lewis family who I am always talking about! We raked their leaves and I couldn't help but jump into them.
That wasn't the best idea though, because the leaves were quite moist and moldy and I did not smell good! But... oh well. #YOSO     (you only serve once)

After we went and cleaned me up and febreezed the car, we headed over to dinner with the Cotton family! They are a family in our ward and the mom is from Sweden. We had dinner with a non-member family from Missouri who the Cotton's are friends with. Both family's fathers work on the air force base together. Bill also joined us and we had a great dinner with wonderful food and singing.

We met a family named the Green's while we were tracting and they have quickly become some of our best friends! They told us to come over after we were done having dinner, so we ran over to their house and shared a little message about Christ with them. Even though they are very devout in their Baptist faith, they are some of the kindest people I have met on my mission so far and they just love us.

On Christmas we got up and opened some packages from our families. My mom sent me the 12 days of Christmas, which was really sweet. There was something for me to open each day. Too bad I didn't know that, so I got to open them almost all on Christmas! Thank you to all the family and friends who sent me a Christmas card or a little package... you will never know how much it means to me!
After that, we ran over to the Simpsons to Skype our families! It was so fun and I felt like I was home for Christmas! But then we hung up and it was back to real life!

After calls home, our district went caroling for an hour! In that hour we were able to sing to people, make a few people cry and get some return appointments.
People would tear up when they saw us, and say "People just don't do this anymore!"
It was so cool to touch people's hearts and Elder Dalton made the comment that "angels must have been helping us sing because there was no other way we would have touched so many hearts."

We had Christmas dinner with the Crandell family in our ward. It was really amazing food, and they had a bunch of cute kids to play with. We stopped by Bill's house afterwards to wish him a Merry Christmas and went home to sleep!
The next day we had exchanges with the sister training leaders. I love exchanges and I learn so much from the Sister Training leaders!!!! We saw so many miracles happen in just that short day.

We were out running in the cold for exercise when a truck pulled up to us. We looked inside and saw our recent convert of 2 weeks ago, Bill, sitting in the car. His head and nose are burned and he doesn't have his glasses on.
Bill proceeded to tell us that his house burned down in the middle of the night. His space heater must have tipped over and started a fire. He woke up around midnight - barely in time to run out with only the shirt on his back. He ran to the neighbors and they gave him some pants and shoes. The fire department hosed the house down, but everything was burned and gone.

Bill doesn't know where we live, but he told his neighbor which direction we lived in. He couldn't even see! But the Lord led him to us, and it was a miracle that we were outside exercising that morning and he found us.
I cried when he told us what happened, but we told him everything would be okay and that the Church would be able to help him get through this!!!

Later that day, the Sisters and I went to go assess the damage.... but there is nothing left. We found a couple pages of his Book of Mormon and his Bible that were still a little legible though!

We read him the scripture D&C 121: 7-9 which reads:
"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
Thy friends do stand by thee, and shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands."

We felt the spirit and I couldn't help but crying as I looked at the ruins of ashes and charred wood that once made up a home. But we promised Bill that he can get through this and he can become stronger. He is getting a brand new start spiritually and physically. "Out of the ashes rises a phoenix!"
It has been amazing to see the ward jump in and help Bill since he lost everything in the fire. They have gotten him glasses, clothes, food, other things, and a place to stay for now. What a blessing this church is!

Some recently baptized people could look at this trial as a sign they weren't supposed to join the church. But Bill has instead turned toward the Lord in humility, rather than away in anger. He is praying for comfort. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. But Bill knows that the Lord will never give him more than he can handle, and he is going to rise out of the ashes and become even stronger.

I am so grateful this week for a wonderful ward family and the strength and faith that recent converts have in the gospel.

I am so grateful to be a missionary in these last days! I have made so many friends and loved people that I will cherish forever more. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I want you all to know I love you very much, and so does the Lord! I want to make you all proud, but I am also very happy I am becoming the person that I am. The Lord really works miracles in each one of us.
With Love,
Sister Brown